If you were God, and you wanted people to know you personally, what would you do?
Would you physically appear to each person? Would you host a weekly open house on some tall mountain somewhere? Would you start a website: www.hereiamitsmegod.com? Or would you select people you knew you could trust and tell them what you wanted humankind to know? Would you inspire some of those people to carefully write down what you told them? Would you give each generation as much truth as it could handle until the whole story was told? Would you then urge men and women who already knew you well to take that written word to the people all over the world who don’t yet know you?
According to the Bible, that’s what God did. He “spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways” (Hebrews 1:1, NIV). He then protected his Word throughout ensuing generations so that it was neither destroyed nor changed. Is the Bible really God’s Word? Well, that’s for you to decide.
Go through the presentations we have prepared for you below and examine the evidence. Only then can you can make a reasoned decision whether or not the Bible is God’s Word.
Here’s why you should care about the Bible. It opens the door to faith. All the information on this website, or all the websites in the world, for that matter, cannot prove the truth of the Bible and what it teaches. Nor can research and investigation and evidence prove the Bible is God’s Word. No amount of information can eliminate the need for faith.
Information and evidence can open a door to faith for you.
Information and evidence from the Bible and life can remove objections or obstacles to faith. That’s the reason John, one of Jesus’ earliest follow- ers, gave for writing the fourth Gospel, the fourth book of the New Testament. He wrote, “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life” (John 20:31, NLT). The Bible is an ancient document; there’s no question about that.
The Bible is a textually accurate work, more so than any other book in history. The Bible is a historically reliable record, though we can only just scratch the surface in explaining why that’s so. But, ultimately, none of that matters if it doesn’t open a door to faith for you.
If you’re hearing or reading these words and you have rejected the Bible without actually reading it, we urge you to read just two percent of it before you dismiss it. If you can read the Gospel of John, 22 chapters in all, without hearing the ring of truth in it, then at least you won’t have made the mistake of reaching your conclusion without prior investigation.
Now, if you’re hearing or reading these words and you already believe in the Bible, and even call it the Word of God, but you’re not reading it and letting it change your life, you’re missing the whole point. The Bible is not a mere storybook. Nor is it the New York Times. It wasn’t handed down through the ages as a pipeline for information. It was written “that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31, NIV).
If you haven’t yet taken that step of faith, if you haven’t called out to the one true God who, though his language is heavenly and his every word is eternal, has written in human language so that YOU could know him and his forgiveness, his love, and his bright purpose for your life, you can do that right now.
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Why do I need the Bible when I can commune with God through nature? No doubt about it, one of the ways God speaks to us is through creation. A forest can be a cathedral, and a windswept beach can become a holy place. The Apostle Paul once wrote, “From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God” (Romans 1:20, NLT).
In other words, nature provides crucial information about God, particularly about his power and majesty.
David, the poet king of Israel, wrote:
The heavens tell of the glory of God.
The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or a word;
their voice is silent in the skies;
yet their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to all the world. (Psalm 19:1-3, NLT)
But there is a limit to what you can know of God through nature (what theologians call “general revelation”). You can learn from nature that God is creative, powerful, awesome, and orderly. But from nature alone you cannot learn that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). From nature alone you cannot discover that “he is a God who is passionate about his relationship with you” (Exodus 34:14, NLT). From nature alone you cannot know that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NLT).
That is why “God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets” (Hebrews 1:1, NLT), because there are truths (what theologians refer to as “special revelation”) that God wants you to know that nature alone cannot tell you.
Let’s talk about this article and about God and nature. Is it possible to know God? What else does God want you to know about Him? We have friends available 24/7 to answer any question you have about God.
Whether you’ve read the Bible or not, you’re probably aware that it contains some very incredible stories. If it were a newspaper, some parts might sound more like a supermarket tabloid than the Wall Street Journal.
The headlines would read:
“That’s incredible!” you might say, and you’d be right. But there’s a difference between that which is hard to believe, at least without some measure of faith, and a myth or a legend.
Many who believe that Bible stories are mere myth or legend have never encountered a miracle (or if they have, they didn’t recognize it or acknowledge it). And, since the Bible matter-of-factly relates many such reports, then, of course, the Bible is full of myths and legends.
No matter how unbelievable some Bible stories may seem, the people who reported them fully in- tended their accounts to be read and believed, not as myths or fables but as factual accounts, the way you believe a fire alarm, a wedding announcement, or your Aunt May’s apple pie recipe. Certainly, the writers knew that telling stories about a rabbi raising himself from the dead or five thousand people being fed from five loaves and two fishes was a sure ticket to the Desert of Zin Loony Bin, unless they could cite witnesses and invite investigation, which is exactly what they did.
For example, consider the following words of three of the Bible’s authors:
John, one of Jesus’ first followers: “The one who existed from the beginning is the one we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is Jesus Christ, the Word of life.” (1 John 1:1, NLT)
Peter, one of Jesus’ first followers: “For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and his coming again. We have seen his majestic splendor with our own eyes.” (2 Peter 1:16, NLT)
Luke, a physician and traveling companion of Paul: “Many people have written accounts about the events that took place among us. They used as their source material the reports circulating among us from the early disciples and other eyewitnesses of what God has done in fulfillment of his promises. Having carefully investigated all of these accounts from the beginning, I have decided to write a careful summary for you….” (Luke 1:1-3, NLT)
The Apostle Paul, the great first-century church planter told a high Roman official, “I am speaking the sober truth. And [you know] about these things. I speak frankly, for I am sure these events are all familiar to him, for they were not done in a corner!” (Acts 26:25b-26, NLT). These are not the language of fable; they represent the way a person writes when he has the facts on his side.
Hundreds witnessed these biblical events as they happened. Reliable people testified, many of them in writing, to their authenticity. Some of them virtually signed their testimony in blood, choosing death rather than recanting their testimony. How many people do you know who would let themselves be persecuted, imprisoned, even executed, for refusing to renounce a myth? And their writings, far from being effectively refuted or discredited, passed the test and were recognized as authoritative in their time and beyond.
Of course, if you can go so far as to believe in a God who “created the earth and everything in it” (Isaiah 42:5, NLT), then it is a small leap of faith to believe in a God who can part the Red Sea or raise his Son from the dead, if he chooses.
If you’ve got ideas about the Bible or concerns about it and God or you just want to know more about Him, let’s talk via Live Chat.
How can I believe the Bible when it’s so full of contradictions and inaccuracies? It’s true that many people believe the Bible is filled with errors and contradictions. For example, a recent issue of Time magazine reported alleged “contradictions” in the two Bible accounts of Jesus’ birth: Matthew reports that wise men visited the child, and Luke mentions shepherds coming to call. He says the wise men found Jesus and his parents in a “house,” while Luke’s shepherds found them in a stable, and “the baby, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12, NLT).
To label the two accounts contradictory is premature. Any reasonable person must acknowledge that the accounts could be parallel without any contradiction at all! Shepherds could have visited Jesus in a stable because, as Luke reports, “There was no room for them in the village inn” (Luke 2:6, NLT)). And wise men traveling from afar could have arrived later, after the family had found more permanent quarters. The two accounts would not be contradictory in the least.
Of course, there are those who see contradictions everywhere they look. For example, the Skeptics’ Annotated Bible identifies Revelation 5:5 as a contradiction of John 1:36 because in John 1:36, John the Baptist calls Jesus “the Lamb of God” and Revelation 5:5 refers to him as the “Lion of the tribe of Judah.” The note on that supposed contradiction reads, “Is Jesus a lamb or a lion?” However, it should be obvious to the discerning reader that the Bible is using the language of metaphor in each case; the title, “Lamb of God,” refers to his mission to sacrifice himself for the sins of the world, and the title, “Lion of Judah,” refers to his victory over sin and death.
Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t still some passages in the Bible that make a person scratch his or her head. There do occur in the Bible different perspectives of the same event, different emphases in retelling incidents, and other apparent discrepancies. There are certain parallel accounts that are difficult to reconcile. And, of course, there have been a host of misinterpretations of biblical passages that create “contradictions” where a closer read would reveal there are none.
Nonetheless, the fact that the writings of forty vastly different individuals—shepherds, soldiers, prophets, poets, kings, scholars, statesmen, musicians, masters, servants, tax collectors, and tentmakers— have been assembled into one book and still retain such unity and scarcity of apparent contradictions should inspire far more confidence than doubt.
For example, suppose you had asked ten contemporary authors to write a book on the same controversial subject, after which you compiled those books into one collection. Would you expect them all to agree? Would they all take identical positions on their central topic? Of course not. Yet, in the Bible you have a collection of writings by forty men from every walk of life, written on three different continents, over a span of more than fifteen hundred years, in enormously different circumstances (prison, palace, field, cave, desert, city, etc.) and still they agree with each other to an astounding degree. That should lead any reasonable person to marvel at the Bible’s unity rather than disparage its “apparent” contradictions.
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Hasn’t the Bible been copied so many times it’s impossible to know what it said originally? Many presume that since the Bible was written such a long time ago (thousands of years, in fact), that its integrity has been compromised over the centuries. It’s like that old party game people used to play before video games came out. It goes like this: A group of people sits in a circle. One person whispers something in the ear to the person sitting next to him. He whispers what he heard to the girl sitting next to him, and so on until it goes full circle. The fun in the game is that sometimes the mes- sage gets so garbled along the way that what started out as “A stitch in time saves nine” ends up as “His kitchen knives ate mine.”
If this can happen so easily, then it must be impossible to know what the Bible originally said, right? After all, what we read in the Bible today are printed copies based on ancient handwritten copies of originals that no longer exist. Who’s to say that a copier didn’t omit something? What if things were changed? Is there reason to believe that the manuscripts available to us today are an accurate trans- mission of the originals?
The answer is yes. The Bible’s accuracy has actually been proven by several amazing discoveries! Take the Hebrew Scriptures, for example. The scribes who hand-copied the Old Testament writings of Moses, David, Isaiah, and the rest were unbelievably meticulous. For example, one group of scribes, called the Masoretes, followed a requirement that every copy had to be written a letter a time. In other words, the scribe could not write a single letter from memory. Each word had to be written and verified one letter at a time. And when an entire scroll had been copied, if a single error was discovered, it would be destroyed.
This care produced such accuracy that when an 1,800-year-old scroll of the book of Isaiah was discovered in the famous Dead Sea Scrolls in 1948, the text “proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 percent of the text,” according to Dr. Gleason Archer, an Old Testament scholar and expert in Semitic languages.
Beyond that, when you consider the New Testament, you’re dealing with what scholars agree is the most reliable document of the ancient world. In terms of manuscript evidence, its text is over eight times more reliable than its closest competitor (Homer’s Iliad). After Homer, the writings of Plato, Demosthenes, and Sophocles boast the largest number of surviving manuscripts. But the New Testament alone boasts over five thousand fragments and manuscripts. And if you add ancient translations from Latin, Ethiopian, Syrian, Arabic, and other languages to the mix, the total exceeds twenty-four thousand.
For this reason, renowned scholar F. F. Bruce said, “There is no body of ancient literature in the world which enjoys such a wealth of good textual attestation as the New Testament,” adding, “if the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt.”
Famed scholar Sir Frederick Kenyon, director and head librarian of the British Museum concluded, “The interval…between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established.”
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More than a century ago, it became fashionable among some scholars to claim that there was no way Peter, Paul, James, and John, among others, were the authors of the books of the Bible, which bear their names and signatures and are collecting dust all over America, because their documents were all written long after they would have died.
Not true. Dr. John A. T. Robinson, lecturer at Trinity College, Cambridge, and one of England’s most distinguished scholars, accepted that view. But, as “little more than a theological joke,” he says, he decided to investigate the arguments on the dating of biblical texts, a field largely dormant since the turn of the twentieth century. The results stunned him and caused him to conclude that the New Testament is the work of the apostles themselves or of contemporaries who worked with them (such as Luke). He dates every book of the New Testament before 70 A.D., even the Gospel of John, considered by some to be the latest New Testament book.
In fact, at one time, John’s Gospel was said by scholars to have been written no earlier than 150 years or so after Jesus’ lifetime. But less than a hundred years ago, a fragment of papyrus was discovered in Egypt and acquired by the John Rylands Library in England. It was eventually discovered that Frag- ment 52 of the John Rylands papyrus, dated to 135 A.D. or earlier, contained portions of John 18. In other words, what is thought to be the latest New Testament book can now be conclusively dated to within at least fifty years of John’s estimated lifetime.
William Foxwell Albright, one of the world’s foremost biblical archaeologists, wrote, “We can already say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A.D. 80.”
In other words, the most current discoveries and research indicate that all the books of the New Testament were written within fifty years after the events they report, which would have been during the lifetimes of some eyewitnesses, and far too soon for legends and myths to have taken hold and found an audience.
When was the New Testament written? Any discussion about the accuracy of the Bible is a good one to have. We have friends available 24/7 to Live Chat with you. Bring your questions and curiosity and let’s talk.
Isn’t the New Testament just propaganda, written to promote a new religion? The New Testament writers did have an agenda. John, one of Jesus’ first followers, said matter of factly, “These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life” (John 20:31, NLT). Far from hiding his agenda, he and the other New Testament writers stated it conclusively.
But having an agenda doesn’t mean that what they wrote was untrue. In fact, the first Christians fre- quently reminded their listeners or readers how easy it would be to confirm, or discredit, the things they said, boldly inviting further investigation. This was done within a few years of the events themselves, when their opponents could have effectively debunked the new religion if their claims were false.
Peter said, “God raised [Jesus] from the dead, and we all are witnesses of this” (Acts 2:32, NLT) and, on another occasion, “God raised [Jesus] to life. And we are witnesses of this fact!” (Acts 3:15, NLT).
Paul told a synagogue full of fellow Jews that after his resurrection, Jesus “appeared over a period of many days to those who had gone with him from Galilee to Jerusalem—these are his witnesses to the people of Israel” (Acts 13:31).
William Lillie, Chair of the Department of Biblical Study at the University of Aberdeen, said of Paul’s citation (in 1 Corinthians 15) of the resurrected Christ appearing to more than 500 people, “What gives a special authority to the list [of witnesses] as historical evidence is the reference to most of the five hundred brethren being still alive. St. Paul says in effect, ‘If you do not believe me, you can ask them.’”
Moreover, the men making these assertions—Paul, Peter, and others—knew that their controversial claims would almost certainly result in persecution, imprisonment, exile, even execution. And yet they stuck to their story, despite the consequences.
As Lee Strobel has written, “People will die for their religious beliefs if they sincerely believe they’re true, but people won’t die for their religious beliefs if they know their beliefs are false…While most people can only have faith that their beliefs are true, the disciples were in a position to know without a doubt…If they weren’t absolutely certain, they wouldn’t have allowed themselves to be tortured to death [for a lie].”
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Just the opposite: over and over again through the centuries, presumptive conclusions about inaccuracies and contradictions in the Bible have been discredited through archaeology.
“I, Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria…am a conqueror (of the regions) from the Great Sea which is in the country of Amurru as far as the Great Sea which is in the Nairi country.”
Archaeologists have also found testimony to the fact that this king had pushed his kingdom westward as far as the Mediterranean (the “Great Sea which is in the Nairi country”) and had therefore conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel, just as the Bible stated he did.
Far from disproving the Bible, Nelson Glueck, the renowned Jewish archaeologist and former president of Hebrew University in Cincinnati, wrote:
“It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever [disproved] a biblical reference.”
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One answer to the question of how can I be sure the Bible is God’s Word is: prophecy.
Both the Old Testament (OT) and New Testament (NT) record many predictions about things that would happen in the future that were later fulfilled in amazing detail. The following are just a few prophecies recorded in the Bible that were later fulfilled in the events of history:
These are just a few examples of the Bible’s mind-boggling detail and accuracy, not only in recording and explaining history, but also in predicting it! But those amazing prophecies above merely scratch the surface.
The most numerous and astounding prophecies of the Bible refer to the coming of Jesus, the Messiah of the Jews and Savior of the world. Scholars have catalogued more than sixty major messianic prophecies in the Old Testament that were fulfilled in Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection (with 270 parts or details that also had to be fulfilled).
Micah predicted that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2, OT; Matthew 2:1, NT). Zech- ariah predicted he would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9, OT; Luke 19:35-37, NT). The psalmist David predicted that his hands and feet would be pierced, centuries before crucifixion was even invented as a form of execution (Psalm 22:16, OT; Luke 23:33, NT).
In fact, in just one day twenty-nine specific prophecies, each of them predicted at least five hundred years earlier and documented in the Old Testament, were fulfilled in Jesus and recorded in the New Testament:
But wait, there’s more! The Bible also prophesied that on the third day after his death, the Messiah would be raised from the dead (Psalm 16:10, OT; Acts 2:31, NT), ascend to heaven (Psalm 68:18, OT; Acts 1:9, NT), and be seated at the right hand of God in full majesty and authority (Psalm 110:1, OT; Hebrews 1:3, NT).
The odds of just eight of these prophecies being accidentally fulfilled in one person have been calcu- lated at 1 in 10 to the 17th power (1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000)! An outrageous probability! Dr. Peter Stoner, former chairman of the departments of mathematics, astronomy, and engineering at Pasadena College, California, illustrated the odds this way: Imagine 100,000,000,000,000,000 silver dollars, an amount that would cover the face of the entire state of Texas to a depth of two feet. Then imagine that one of those coins is marked. What are the chances that you could walk blindfolded into that Texas- sized pile of coins, stop only once somewhere between El Paso and Galveston, somewhere between Amarillo and Brownsville, and on your first try reach into that pile and pick out the single marked coin? Your chances would be one in 100,000,000,000,000,000, the same as supposing that only eight mes- sianic prophecies could have been accidentally fulfilled in one person.
Now consider all two thousand (out of about 2,500) Bible prophecies that have so far been fulfilled. The likelihood of that occurring by accident has been calculated at less than 1 in 10 to the power of 2,000-that’s 1 with two thousand zeros after it! Compare those odds to your odds of being struck by lightning (1 in 600,000).
So the question to ask is: Is it easier to believe that the Bible is the true and infallible Word of God or that all those prophecies have been fulfilled by a mind-boggling chain of coincidences and statistical impossibilities?
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